Front wheel bearing fitting tips.

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Front wheel bearing fitting tips.

Postby GrahamH » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:22 am

I have just replaced my steel front wheel with an alloy one and thought to share a few tips on the process.

The wheels are interchangeable, however the brake disc needs much shorter bolts for the alloy wheel. The short bolts are also used on other Hondas and are a special design, you can't just shorten the long bolts.

As my replacement wheel had done around 30,000 miles I thought it would be a good idea to start with fresh wheel bearings. I used SKF 6201-2RS to be sure of good quality bearings. There are also 6201-2RS-C3 bearings on offer but don't use these as they have loose internal clearances and are not suitable for wheel bearings.

The 2RS indicates 2 rubber seals and I guess they could be fitted with both seals but as original Honda bearings have only outer seals fitted it is easy enough to flip out the inner seals. I used a scalpel to avoid damaging the seals. It is also debatable how much grease should be in the bearing. As the inner seal is missing I packed the bearing loosely with grease as any excess grease would be able to leak out anyway.

Honda suggest a special bearing puller to remove the old bearings but a M6 concrete anchor bolt does the job nicely. Tighten it so it grips the bore of the bearing, heat up the wheel with a hot air gun (get it hot!) then the bearing can be knocked out from the other side. Using a drift and heavy hammer the bearing should pop right out.

It is not a bad idea to put the new bearing in the freezer for a while and again have the wheel hub hot, it needs to be too hot to touch but not so hot as to damage the paint. Before fitting the bearing measure the depth of the recess, the bearings are 10mm wide so you can check it is fully seated by measuring the depth again as it is not easy to see when the bearing is fully home.

A special alignment tool is needed to align the spacer tube and the opposite bearing. I used a 12mm drill bit shank through the first bearing, dropped the spacer over it and then the second bearing. When the bearings are home the spacer tube should be tight between them and aligned so the wheel spindle will slide in easily. A m12 bolt may also work but will have more slop than the drill bit.

Whilst the wheel was out I checked the suspension bearings, the main ball bearings were fine but the nylon type bushings had long since lost all lubrication and the steel tubes were suffering from fretting corrosion and were very sloppy. I machined up some replacement bronze bushes and reassembled everything with fresh grease. It's worth doing at least the lubrication of the joints if you have to take the wheel out.


As it has a been a few years since I last worked on a Helix I had forgotten how much fun fitting the front wheel can be. Hold the wheel, speedo drive, spacer, and brake disc bracket (with dust shields) then lift it all into position and slide in the wheel spindle, easy if you have four hands! But really it is not so hard once you figure it out. I held the brake plate and dust shields in place with a 12mm bolt pushed just far enough in from the left side, supported the wheel on plywood just below the fitted position, then by using a scissor jack supporting the front of the bike frame lowered slowly until everything aligned. The wheel spindle goes in and pushes the M12 bolt out and all done.

Now to find a back wheel.

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